Java User-Agent detector and caching

It’s often important for a server side application to understand the client platform. There are two common methods used for this.

  1. On the client itself, “capabilities” can be tested.
  2. Unfortunately, the server cannot easily test these, and as such must usually rely upon the HTTP Header information, notably “User-Agent”.

Example User-agent might typically look like this for a common desktop browser, developers can usually determine the platform without a lot of work.

"Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/4.0; SLCC2; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 3.0.30729; Media Center PC 6.0; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E; InfoPath.3)"

Determining robots and mobile platforms, unfortunately is a lot more difficult due to the variations. Libraries as those described below simplify this work as standard Java Objects expose the attributes that are commonly expected.

With Maven, the dependencies are all resolved with the following POM addition:


/* Get an UserAgentStringParser and analyze the requesting client */
final UserAgentStringParser parser = UADetectorServiceFactory.getResourceModuleParser();
final ReadableUserAgent agent = parser.parse(request.getHeader("User-Agent"));

out.append("You're a '");
out.append("' on '");

As indicated on the website documentation, running this query for each request uses valuable server resources, it’s best to cache the responses to minimize the impact!

NOTE: the website caching example is hard to copy-paste, here’s a cleaner copy.

package com.example.cache;

import java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit;
import net.sf.uadetector.ReadableUserAgent;
import net.sf.uadetector.UserAgentStringParser;
import net.sf.uadetector.service.UADetectorServiceFactory;

* Caching User Agent parser
* @see
* @author Scott Fredrickson [skotfred]
* @since 2015jan28
* @version 2015jan28
public final class CachedUserAgentStringParser implements UserAgentStringParser {

private final UserAgentStringParser parser = UADetectorServiceFactory.getCachingAndUpdatingParser();
private static final int CACHE_MAX_SIZE = 100;
private static final int CACHE_MAX_HOURS = 2;
* Limited to 100 elements for 2 hours!
private final Cache<String , ReadableUserAgent> cache = CacheBuilder.newBuilder().maximumSize(CACHE_MAX_SIZE).expireAfterWrite(CACHE_MAX_HOURS, TimeUnit.HOURS).build();

* @return {@code String}
public String getDataVersion() {
return parser.getDataVersion();
* @param userAgentString {@code String}
* @return {@link ReadableUserAgent}
public ReadableUserAgent parse(final String userAgentString) {
ReadableUserAgent result = cache.getIfPresent(userAgentString);
if (result == null) {
result = parser.parse(userAgentString);
cache.put(userAgentString, result);
return result;
public void shutdown() {


Adding meta “viewport” for WordPress

Google recently changed their search algoritms to better recognize and weight “Mobile” support. This term is loosely defined in general, but to get your Google search “juice” you simply need to add a “viewport” meta tag. Unfortunately, unless you have the knowledge and want to edit your WordPress theme manually, there’s not an obvious way to add this.

Adding the “Definitely Allow Mobile Zooming” plugin makes this painless in WordPress without any additional configuration.

HTML code required (in <head>):

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />

PHP required (for manual addition):

function set_viewport() {
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />
add_action('wp_head', 'set_viewport');


meta viewport minimal-ui… a good idea in it’s time, just not useable…

Apple added this capability for fullscreen browser applications in Safari for IOS 7.1, unfortunately, they removed it in IOS 8.0

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, minimal-ui" />


Preventing Blackberry browser from messing up your UI

I’ve previously given steps to prevent phone numbers (and other elements) from being automatically reformatted by Skype Toolbar and IOS Safari, there is still a small segment of the user population that uses Blackberry devices that can similarly benefit from a little code.

The following stops auto detection and formatting of phone and email addresses on devices with the BlackBerry Browser.


<meta http-equiv="x-rim-auto-match" content="none" />


<meta name="x-rim-auto-match" http-equiv="x-rim-auto-match" forua="true" content="none" />


Apple IOS 6 Smart App Banners

If you have made an investment in creating a device specific application in addition to a traditional web application, there is also a good chance that you want to drive your users (customers) to use the native application.

With the release of Apple IOS 6 in September 2012, this ability was made possible with the use of a simple HTML <meta> tag on your web page. You will need to replace the x’s with your app-id from the Apple Store.

<meta name="apple-itunes-app" content="app-id=xxxxxxxxxx" />


Device Fingerprinting

Often it can be beneficial to ‘more’ uniquely identify your users. For applications this is trivial, but in a web browser this can be accomplished via only a few attributes.

  • HTTP – User-Agent, IP Address, Content types and languages accepted.
  • HTTPS/SSL – the keys and encryption methods available to a specific user may vary for each client configuration.
  • HTML5 – local storage and capabilities supported.
  • Geolocation – this is included in HTML5, but also supported in many clients without full HTML5 support, or via browser extensions.
  • JavaScript – Installed version – and many DOM attributes/capabilities such as timezone, installed plugins, screen sizes and fonts from the browser can be detected.
  • Java (Applet) – Installed version – this can often be used to get additional information regarding the client system directly from the VM or Operating System itself. (* Persistent Cookies possible)
  • Flash – Installed version – this can often be used to get additional information regarding the client system directly from the Operating System itself. (* Persistent Cookies possible)
  • Silverlight (for Microsoft Windows) – – Installed version and additional information from Operating System?
  • GoogleGEARS (deprecated) – Installed version and additional information from Operating System such as Geolocation